Passover Traditions in BBYO Members’ Families

May 30, 2024
Sam Toledano

Oceanside, New York, United States

Class of 2026

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Passover, the holiday commemorating the freedom of the Israelites in Egypt, is celebrated worldwide with so many different customs. It is one of my favorite holidays because of the similar yet different traditions tied in on both my Ashkenazi and Sephardic sides. This meaningful holiday is also significant to others in BBYO with each person having different family member's houses they go to, different versions of important foods, different versions of what people eat and don't eat throughout the week, and overall different cultures and familial traditions. This is how I, as well as, different people celebrate this holiday with their families!

Starting with me and my family's traditions. I am both Ashkenazi and Sephardic with my family being from Morocco, Russia, and Turkey. My family always spends our first night with my Ashkenazi family in my hometown in the Nassau Suffolk region and it's always so comforting, calm, and so much fun! We do the seder with pretty Haggadahs, an orange on our seder plate representing women, lots of singing and laughing, and even have little puppets representing the 10 plagues! After the interactive seder which we all participate in, we have an amazing dinner and just talk and laugh all together! We end up leaving my grandparents' house pretty late but never without mandle bread! (Seriously make it, it's amazing.) Then, bright and early the next morning we all take an 8-hour drive up to Canada where I spend the rest of the week with my Sephardic side of my family! 

This seder, though it shares many similar ideas as the previous seder such as eating and hiding matzo and singing Dayenu, in many ways is also completely different! First, the seder can be pretty long as my family does the entire seder from beginning to end and it is all in Hebrew done by my grandpa. We sing songs with one of my favorites being a Moroccan song called Bivhilu Yatzah MiMizrayim which is just a song with one chorus that we sing fast and slowly for around 5 minutes while the afikomen is waved over each person's head by a family member as a blessing. However, every time I leave with a minor concussion due to my cousins just banging the plate on our heads. After the long seder that starts after synagogue, meaning the seder ends at 10 pm, we finally eat traditional Moroccan foods such as Dafina which is a meal containing potatoes and chickpeas, couscous, and harissa, as well as traditional Israeli foods such as homemade Bourekas! All the food is prepared days and days in advance from scratch and it's so good. Finally, after the entire week of eating Matzo, the end of Passover comes, also known as Mimouna! This is a Moroccan tradition where we are allowed to eat hametz again and go from house to house of our family members, and traditionally in Morocco to your neighbor's house. Traditional cakes and many other foods are eaten with my entire family's favorite being mofletta which is similar to a crepe! All of my traditions on both sides of my family are so important to me which is also how so many others feel about their own traditions! Here are some traditions that other people in BBYO do!

With all the people I talked to, so many people say that the seder is their favorite part of Passover as they get to spend quality time with their family whether it's a 4-hour-long seder or just a dinner with playing games! With long and short seders as well as many different songs and prayers each family sings, it's overall a favorite holiday for so many and everyone has such different traditions! For most people, matzo candy is a must for the holiday which is made with matzo, caramel, chocolate, and a huge variety of toppings. It is a staple for me and many others during Passover, and some make it for their family members whereas others make it with them! Other (extremely) important and traditional foods include latkes, gefilte fish, and desserts such as kosher marshmallows, marshmallow bars, matzah cakes, apples with honey (yes it's an all-year thing), and jelly rings! Many other traditions have become associated with Passover in BBYO members' families which are now so important to them. These vary from playing card games, leaving a seat for Elijah, inviting a non-Jewish person or friend to seders to educate them, leaving a seat for the hostages, or even different spins of hiding the afikomen. Some families have the kids hide it for the parents to find instead and some family members pretend to but don’t even hide it at all! Overall, based on your cultural and familial background, each person's Passover is different from each other yet also so similar in many ways, and it is so interesting to learn about each family's traditions!

From colorful Hagadas, jelly rings, matzo candy, card games, and more, each family has their own traditions during this meaningful holiday and all are so different yet so similar because they are all based on the key themes that Passover provides about our ancestors being freed from slavery in Egypt and spending time together with friends and family. Ultimately, these diverse and beautiful traditions are so cool and are just a few of so many that act as expressions of family and togetherness. It is so meaningful to see each family's unique representations of the holiday!

Sam is a BBG from New York, and she likes to do art and make and listen to music.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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